Notable Accolades: Emmaline Zanelli

We examine the work of artists who took out major prizes last year.

Words: Joanna Kitto

Emmaline Zanelli’s three-channel moving image Dynamic Drills, 2019-21, winner of the churchie emerging art prize 2022, features a series of vignettes reimagining a lifetime of labour by the artist’s nonna, Mila.

Mila Zanelli was a manufacturing worker across the car, wool, poultry, and fashion industries. In Dynamic Drills, the pair cycle through recollections of this work. Apricots are ladled onto a treadmill, a production line powered by pedalling from a deck chair in a sunny suburban backyard. A lamp is powered by an exercise bike. Grandmother and granddaughter glide up and down on an electric bed.

The action is punctuated by a soundtrack of Mila reading (in Italian) Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto, 1909, a text that speaks to our century-long obsession with industry. In one scene – where the power of muscle memory becomes particularly apparent – Mila recreates the delicate dance of the hands and body that once populated her working life. Zanelli follows along, watching closely, keeping up. English subtitles read, “our gestures must imitate the movements of machines.”

Dynamic Drills pushes back against the transactional methodologies of production, and instead, is driven by relational exchange. Zanelli makes this distinction clear, saying, “Nonna and I weren’t making anything in our choreographies. If anything, we were producing our relationship. Our product was care and time.”

Zanelli tells me that winning the Churchie emerging art prize came as a great shock. However, off the back of three awards in her hometown in 2022 (SALA Festival, August and Adelaide Fringe, February), it’s the national recognition her compelling, singular practice has been building towards since graduating from Adelaide College of the Arts, Adelaide in 2015, and a Master of Photography at Photography Studies College, Melbourne in 2020.

Presented at Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art since 2019, the churchie looks to identify and profile the next generation of contemporary artists from across the nation. Sebastian Goldspink, judge of this years’ prize, says Dynamic Drills reflects a very “human” experience and, “encapsulates many striking ideas: technology as a mediator, working with community and non-artistic collaborators, and an engagement with temporality.”

Most recently, Zanelli’s work has shown at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne; and Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, France.

Featured image: Installation view of Emmaline Zanelli’s Dynamic Drills, 2019 – 2021 at Meat Market Stables Melbourne. Courtesy: the artist.

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 103, January-March 2023. 

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